Professors and librarians often play very complimentary roles. In talking with my friend Steve, who’s a professor, he mentioned our roles can often be like the roles of good cop and bad cop (with librarians being the good cop of course).
Professor’s give out assignments. They grade and judge students. They make students, gasp, work hard! They try to challenge their students and take them out of their comfort zones. This can be stressful for students. It can leave them feeling overwhelmed and confused. Professors are basically like the cop in every movie yelling at the suspect telling them that ” they do bad things to students like you in summer classes.”
Librarians on the other hand are not grading students. We offer a welcoming supportive environment, where students can feel free to ask without being judged. We are not going to yell at a student if they haven’t done the reading, or in our case, don’t know how to use a book or locate it in the stacks.
I often say things to students like: “yeah, this is a pretty difficult assignment, but I know some great places we can look to make it easier.” Or, “I see that your frustrated that your professor is requiring at least one book and one scholarly article, but he/she is probably trying to get you to see why each is important. Let me explain what each one is good for.” I try to create an environment of empathy and understanding where students feel safe to explore and make mistakes.
I have to admit that there are definitely times when librarians challenge students and professors usually try to create safe environments, but I often see our roles following this “good cop, bad cop” framework. We are both working towards the same goal. We are just helping students learn in different ways.